Countdown has begun and I’m wrapping up final decisions for my show “Afternoons – Where Drawing Meets Painting” which will open Friday July 10th in the Fisher Gallery at the Schlesinger Arts Center in Alexandria, VA. You might think it’s a bit early to be finishing a mid-July show, but I used to be an IT project manager and have had more than my share of the horror of praying for miracles at the last moment. There is satisfaction in being a bore, and well prepared (even if it doesn’t seem cool.)
With the insightful guidance of the gallery manager, Megan Peritore, the much dreaded artist statement and press release are written, and the postcards will go to print in the coming week. All I have to do is select the work, make final presentation decisions and stick to them. Sounds like it would be easy…
I will be exhibiting from a body of works, upwards of fifty, that I have created over the last eighteen months. These works are a mixture of drawings of the nude and clothed model. Depending on the length of the drawing session, they range from demure illustrative-type works, to works that detail obsessive preoccupation with the sad empty gaze of a model in the long pose. For those who haven’t experienced drawing a model: there’s a particular exquisite human vulnerability in the expressive constant of a model’s sitting.
I have had my husband Prem play judge and jury and select his picks. I have also had my good friend, and fellow artist, Lisa Rosenstein make her selections. But I am the Artistic Director of my shows, and the decision is mine. I will pick the drawings that I think best activate the paper, and evoke a strong human emotion. I expect this show to deliver a visual statement about what I am trying to achieve through my mark making, and to suggest where I am going in the future. Presenting my artwork, even in a solo show, I must control how my work is presented. I’ve complained to friends and colleagues that many exhibitions are more like interior design exhibits than art showcases. (You might know what I mean: the type of exhibit where you enter the space, take in the beautifully appointed wall pieces and feel no compunction to actually view any of the art.) I have to consider the presentation of the artwork, and the organization of the space, in order to appropriately focus attention on the work itself.
I’ve been checking out how other artists are presenting their art to see what works. Within the last month I’ve gone to the Hirshhorn in D.C., and the MOMA and The Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, to check out what others are doing. What I’ve learned is that I must first decide on the overall impression I want the viewer to have when he/she first enters my exhibition space and then decide how each individual work should be framed. For this exhibition, the entire body of work has been executed with acrylic on pastel paper. The works are vivid, contemporary, and vulnerable. I want the space around them to feel crisp, uptight and precise. I want each individual artwork to achieve a sense of coolness and detachment.
Several months ago I sent out five of my works to be professionally framed. I spent less than a half hour with the framer, as we quickly agreed on floating the artwork, and using a simple black metal frame. When I got the work back I was disappointed – there was nothing wrong with the framing job per se, but it just seemed to diminish the artwork. This was a costly mistake on my part – I had not been clear about what I wanted and the look I wanted to achieve. I have learned not to assume that a framer will make the right framing decision for me. There is no such a thing as a neutral frame.
Framing is very costly and it can be prohibitively expensive to change a poor framing choice. For this upcoming show at the Fisher Gallery I will be exhibiting around 15 mid sized works, 1 large and several small works. But this will be the first and smallest of three upcoming solo shows of my figure drawings. I have an exhibition in Jan 2010 at the Delaplaine Arts Center, Frederick, MD, followed by a show in Glenview Mansion, Rockville, MD in November 2010. Whatever decisions I make on framing now will influence how my work is presented for the next few years. I’ve invested days in researching picture molding, and archival mounting techniques, and comparing prices for molding and matting options at online framing shops (Framing4Yourself.com, AmericanFrame.com and Framingsupplies.com.) I’m considering buying picture molding online, and combining it with backing and mounting materials (like Acrylite, Gatorfoam and Coroplast) cut from sheets to my specifications by the plastics distributor Piedmont Plastics in Beltsville, MD. I’m currently waiting for the samples to arrive to make final choices, and to decide whether I want to tackle the job by myself or have a framer do it for me. At the moment I’m inclined to do the former – it hurts when you pay a professional to do a job and it is less than what you expected.
I’m very excited for this first show, Afternoons – Where Drawings Meets Painting that will run July 10th – August 7th, 2009. The opening reception is July 10th, 7-9pm. I’ll give a brief artists talk at 8pm on the July 10th. I hope you’ll come enjoy the exhibit, and would love to hear what you think of the work. The Margaret W. and Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery is located within the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at 3001 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, Virginia. Call (703)845-6156 or visit http://www.nvcc.edu/alexandria/schlesingercenter/ for more details.
Jackie Hoysted is a native of Ireland, and currently lives in Gaithersburg, MD. She quit her career as an IT consultant four years ago to pursue a career in the arts. She has since graduated from a fine arts degree program at the Corcoran College of Art & Design, Washington DC. She is a multi media artist and selects materials based on what she wishes to communicate. She has had a number of solo shows in the area and her work has been selected for numerous juried shows at a regional and national level. Her ongoing project Send Me Your Last Cigarette has been featured in The Gazette, the Washington City Paper, The Falls Church News Press and the Westmeath Examiner, Ireland and numerous blogs.